Fight breaks out over Kimberley Certificate issuing authority

The two major New York diamond organizations have gotten into an angry tug-of-war over a proposed agency that would issue Kimberley Process certificates for American rough diamond exports.

The entity was originally supposed to be part of Jewelers of America. Then the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers of America created the Rough Diamond Export Mechanism, an independent entity that would issue certificates. However, this week, the Diamond Dealers Club issued a press release announcing it would start its own mechanism—after some in the Club felt they did not have adequate representation on the RDEM board and were not consulted in its formation.

“We were completely left out of the process,” says the DDC’s Sylvain Ringer. “If you want to do things in the name of the diamond industry in the U.S., you should work together. So we decided to go our own way.”

Ringer hopes a prime selling point will be their group’s cost. The RDEM will charge $50 a certificate to recoup administrative costs; the Club will charge nothing.

Leon Cohen, DMIA president and a member of the RDEM board, said about the Club actions: “We are delighted they want to be involved and if they want to join us, we welcome them.”

People close to the situation say there has been a lot of tempers lost and accusations traded over this issue between the officials of the two groups. While these organizations’ international “parents”—the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association—have squabbled on and off for some time, it is still relatively rare to have a fight between the local entities.

What makes this particularly unusual is the groups are fighting over something that’s largely ceremonial. The RDEM’s duties are strictly administrative, and it is not likely be too busy, as America exports relatively few rough diamonds.

Imports of rough diamonds into the United States would continue to be handled by the Customs Office.